Ethiopia to Start Repatriating Citizens from Saudi Arabia Wednesday

ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopia says it will start airlifting thousands of its nationals who are living in difficult situations in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday.

Authorities have recently been discussing with Saudi Officials and devising a repatriation plan to bring about 100, 000 Ethiopian nationals back home.

On Monday, the committee, established to lead the repatriation operation, assessed the country’s final arrangements in a review meeting chaird by said Ambassador Birtukan Ayano, State Minister Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia.

“Repatriating Ethiopian citizens from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will begin on Wednesday,” announced the Foreign Ministry after the meeting.

It also said “about 100 thousand Ethiopians would be repatriated within the upcoming 7-11 months”.

The committee, comprising 16 government institutions, discussed detailed activities of the planned repatriation drive.

According to the ministry, the preparations range from providing air transport, to availing temporary sheltering centers in Addis Ababa with foods, utilities and health services.

The operation will cover the entire process of bringing the Ethiopians from the gulf nation and taking them to their home in Ethiopia, said Ambassador Birtukan.

By regularly increasing reception capacity, the government will continue to exert everything in its power to bring all Ethiopians in difficult situations back home, the state minister added.

Authorities estimate the number of Ethiopians residing in the Gulf nation to be 750,000. About 450,000 of them are suspected of living there without proper legal documents.

Until mid-March, about 35, 000 Ethiopians are registered to be repatriated. The number is expected to increase significantly in the past 10 days.

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